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The Hindu on indiaserver.com : Medha Patkar relents on dam issue

Online edition of India's National Newspaper on indiaserver.com
Tuesday, March 27, 2001


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Medha Patkar relents on dam issue

By Our Special Correspondent

AHMEDABAD, MARCH 26. Relenting from her earlier stand of ``no dam,'' the Narmada Bachao Andolan leader, Ms. Medha Patkar, has demanded freezing the construction of the Sardar Sarovar dam on the Narmada river in Gujarat at the existing height of 90 meters.

In a statement, Ms. Patkar referred to the State Government's project supplying the Narmada and Mahi river waters for drinking purposes through pipelines to Ahmedabad, Baroda, Rajkot and some other cities and towns and thousands of villages in the arid Saurashtra region, and said the project vindicated the NBA's stand that the Narmada waters could be supplied to the drought- affected areas by lifting and pumping in the canals even at the dam height of 80 metres.

Claiming that Gujarat could receive its full benefit of the share of the Narmada waters even at the present height by pumping the water and storing in the series of small ponds all along the command areas, Ms. Patkar said freezing the construction at the existing height would not only spare the State of finding resources for financing the project, it would also help save submergence of large amount of rich cultivable lands in the Narmada basin on which some 40,000 families in Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh were still surviving.

She said while the State Government had officially admitted that it would require another Rs. 25,000 crores for completing the project, the actual requirement would not be less than Rs. 44,000 crores.

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